Is Lemon Water Good for You?

A Dietitian Explains

Is lemon water good for you?

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

Lemon water is an easy, nutritious way to stay hydrated every day. It’s popular at restaurants and only takes a few moments to prepare at home. It has also become trendy as a way to improve digestion, skin health, and much more.

Squeeze a whole or a half lemon into a glass of water, and voila: You have lemon water. You can also simply drop lemon slices into your water, so that in addition to the juice, you’re getting the pulp in your drink.

Some people choose to liven up their lemon water by adding ginger, mint, turmeric, or a cucumber slice, but you can also drink it as is. While many lemon water fans prefer theirs to be lukewarm in temperature, others drink it cool. There’s little evidence that either way is healthier, so opt for the temperature you like best.

The Verdict

Lemon water promotes hydration and gives a boost of vitamin C. However, if you have sensitive teeth or experience acid reflux, you may want to watch how much, and how often, you consume it.

Here’s what to know about lemon water’s nutrition facts, potential health benefits, how much you should drink, and its potential drawbacks.

Lemon Water: Nutrition Facts

One cup (8 ounces) of water with the juice of 1/2 lemon contains:

  • Calories: 5
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 2 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Vitamin C: 10% RDA

The nutrition in lemon water depends on the amount of lemon juice used. Some people enjoy a small slice of lemon in their water, while others add the juice of one whole lemon, as well as additional ingredients, such as apple cider vinegar or honey.

Potential Health Benefits of Lemon Water

Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, and they contain fiber and phytonutrients. Even though it seems like adding a simple squeeze of lemon to your regular cup of water is very simplistic, it may provide a variety of health benefits.

May Improve Hydration Levels

First, lemon water serves an obvious purpose: It helps you stay hydrated. If you find water to be a tad boring, adding zesty lemon can make it more fun to drink, which may help you to increase your overall water intake. Staying hydrated is incredibly important for several key body functions, including fighting fatigue and keeping digestion on track.

Provides Antioxidant Support

Lemons are a terrific source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects your body from harmful free radicals. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one lemon contains 34.4 mg of vitamin C, which is more than half the government’s recommended daily intake. Exactly how much vitamin C you get depends on how much lemon juice you squeeze into your water.

According to a 2015 article in Chemistry Central Journal, citrus fruits such as lemons are a “treasure trove” of health benefits, and their characteristics include: “anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, as well as cardiovascular protective effects, [and] neuroprotective effects.”

May Boost Skin Health

Your skin may benefit from lemon water, too: The vitamin C in lemons promotes collagen synthesis, research published in 2017 in the journal Nutrients found. That means it could help your skin look younger and more vibrant.

May Improve Digestion

Lemon water contains citric acid, which helps break down food and aids in digestion. Additionally, consuming more water, whether it's lemon water or regular water, combats constipation and promotes regularity.

May Prevent Kidney Stones

It can also help prevent and dissolve kidney stones. In fact, the National Kidney Foundation suggests consuming four ounces of lemon juice mixed with water a day to prevent kidney stones.

May Promote Weight Loss

While lemon water isn’t a magic weight-loss solution, it could help you shed some pounds: If
you use it to replace, say, a daily soda or glass of sugary juice, you’ll save hundreds of calories per week. Plus, sugar-sweetened drinks have been linked to weight gain and chronic diseases, so cutting back on them is an all-around win.

Potential Risks of Lemon Water

While lemon water can have many potential health benefits, it may not be a great choice for every individual.

Those with Sensitive Teeth

Holly Klamer, RDN, a nutrition educator based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, went through a phase in which she enjoyed drinking lots of lemon water. But she realized there was a downside to the habit: “It made my teeth more sensitive,” she says.

If you drink a lot of lemon water, the acid from the fruit could stay in your teeth, damaging your enamel and making you more prone to cavities.

Klamer suggests sipping lemon water through a straw or rinsing your mouth after drinking a
glass of it. Both strategies can help mitigate any impact on your teeth.

Immunocompromised Individuals

She also pointed out that many restaurants serve lemon water routinely—and that could be a germy situation in which to enjoy the beverage. In fact, previous research tested 76 lemons from 21 restaurants and found that nearly 70% had bacteria, viruses, and other microbes, including E. coli. So perhaps skip the lemon water in that situation, and prepare it for yourself at home instead.

People with Indigestion or Acid Reflux

Lemon water may also be too acidic for some people who struggle with indigestion or acid reflux. While lemon water may anecdotally help some people with digestion and alleviate acid reflux, it may also increase the acidity in the stomach and esophagus, worsening existing indigestion. If you suffer from acid reflux, you may want to speak with a healthcare provider to see whether they recommend avoiding citrus fruits and juices, even in small amounts.

When Should You Drink Lemon Water?

Anecdotally, some people say drinking lemon water in the morning gets their digestive system moving, while others find it calming to have a warm glass before bed.

When it comes down to it, you’ll reap lemon water’s benefits at whatever time of day you choose to consume it.

How Much Lemon Water Should You Drink?

There’s no limit. How much you drink, and when, is totally up to you.

But keep in mind how much fluid you need every day: The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggest 3.7 liters a day for men, and 2.7 daily liters for women.

If drinking lemon water helps you meet those recommendations, that’s great news.

How to Incorporate Lemon Water into Your Diet

Lemon water can be a delicious and easy beverage to incorporate into your lifestyle. Here are some ways to enjoy it:

  • Add a slice of lemon to your water bottle before working out
  • Add lemon (and other citrus) to a pitcher or jug of water and keep it in your refrigerator to enjoy throughout the week
  • Enjoy a cup of hot water with lemon in the evening after dinner
  • Start your day with a cup of warm water with a squeeze of lemon and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

Alternatives to Lemon Water

If you're not a fan of lemon water, you may be able to reap similar benefits from these alternatives.

Water with Orange Slices

If you're not a fan of lemons, you may enjoy a sweeter option, such as water with orange slices. Adding the juice of 1/4 of a medium orange will add sweetness, as well as 23% of the RDA for vitamin C.

Water with Grapefruit Slices

Swap lemon water for water with grapefruit slices and a sprig of rosemary or a few leaves of mint. This delicious option provides comparable vitamin C and tons of flavor.

A Word From Verywell

Adding lemon to your water can be an excellent way to boost your health and hydration. However, consider the potential situations in which regular water may be better. Additionally, to protect your teeth, you may want to cap your lemon water to a few cups per day.

It's also important to note that what works for one person may not work for another, so the general answer to "Is Lemon Water Good For You?" is very subjective. Please consider your individual needs when deciding whether you may want to consume this beverage.

11 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. USDA FoodData Central. Lemon juice, raw.

  2. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.

  3. USDA. FoodData Central. Lemon, raw.

  4. Lv X, Zhao S, Ning Z, et al. Citrus fruits as a treasure trove of active natural metabolites that potentially provide benefits for human healthChem Cent J. 2015;9. doi:10.1186/s13065-015-0145-9

  5. Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The roles of vitamin c in skin healthNutrients. 2017;9(8). doi: 10.3390/nu9080866

  6. 7 reasons to start your day with lemon water. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic.

  7. 6 easy ways to prevent kidney stones. National Kidney Foundation.

  8. Datz, T. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Higher consumption of sugary beverages linked with increased risk of mortality.

  9. Loving AL, Perz J. Microbial flora on restaurant beverage lemon slicesJ Environ Health. 2007;70(5):18-22. doi: 10.1086/588666.

  10. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. National Academies Press; 2005.

  11. USDA FoodData Central. Oranges, raw, navel.

By Angela Haupt
Angela Haupt is a freelance journalist specializing in health, wellness, and nutrition. She was previously the Managing Editor of Health at U.S. News & World Report. Angela is a regular contributor with The Washington Post and has written for publications such as Women’s Health magazine, USA Today, and Newsday.